“The best part of the bridging program was getting three job offers. I never dreamed I would get to select a job,” says Vikas Keshri, a graduate of Ontario’s bridge training program in Social Work. Keshri had waited over five years in India to immigrate, and then needed to complete Ryerson’s Internationally Educated Social Work Professionals (IESW) bridge training program.
Arriving from Gujarat, India, in 2007, the experienced social worker and manager knew that the move into the Canadian work force would not be easy. The Ontario Bridge Training Program prepared him for work in Canada. “The program was excellent. Contact with others in similar situations was a huge support. I made friends not just for the length of the program but for life.
“It gave me connections and language training specific to my field. I learned about Canadian policy, procedures and funding. I had done my Masters in Social Work in 1995-96, this was a good brush-up with all the latest approaches,” says Keshri.
“Many new immigrants experience barriers in employment,” said Dr. June Ying Yee, the Faculty Liaison/Curriculum Development coordinator for the IESW bridging program and a teacher in the program. “The certificate allows professionals to understand the Canadian context and demonstrate preparedness for a career here.”
Funded by the government of Ontario, the Program helps internationally-trained individuals get licensed and working in their field more quickly. Programs in over 100 different professions and trades bridge international training, education and experience to requirements in Ontario without duplicating previous training.
Coming with skills and education, immigrants do not always need additional formal education, but Keshri says they need to apply their knowledge.
“The bridging program is very effective. There is no need to rush into a career. It is a process, people need to be prepared.
Have confidence – you have the skills, you simply need to refine them.
“There is competition in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, but if you look outside those centers you will have more success.”
Keshri wanted to work in a place where there is potential to grow. The York region branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) felt like the right fit.
“We are very fortunate to get Vikas,” said Neil Howard, the program manager of the Recovery Program at CMHA. “He is a valued employee. I hope he stays a very long time.”